Baseball / Sports

Braves beat Diamondbacks, 5-2, to push win streak to 8

ATLANTA -- A sold-out crowd turned out at Turner Field on Friday night and saw the Atlanta Braves do what they've been doing a lot of lately -- pitching extremely well, manufacturing runs without benefit of homers and, oh yes, winning.

They scored four runs in the first two innings and pitcher Ervin Santana was strong into the eighth inning to lead the Braves past the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2 and extend their season-high winning streak to eight games.

Santana (7-5) won his second consecutive start, allowing six hits and two runs in 7 1/3 innings with one walk and six strikeouts. His first run scored on a wild pitch, and the second run charged to Santana scored after he left the game in the eighth inning. He's 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in four career starts against the Diamondbacks.

Craig Kimbrel pitched a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout for his 27th save in 31 opportunities.

B.J. Upton extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff single in the first inning and added a single in the second to give him his first multi-hit game in the streak, which matched the longest of his career.

In the first inning Upton stole second base, advanced on an Andrelton Simmons sacrifice and scored on Freddie Freeman's single to put the Braves ahead 1-0, a lead they would never relinquish and an example of their recent improvements at getting a runner on, getting him over and getting him in.

The Braves have hit just two home runs during their winning streak and none in the past five games. After going 11-25 in their first 36 homerless games, the Braves are 6-0 in homerless games during the winning streak.

After sweeping the Phillies and Mets, the Braves opened a three-game series against the Diamondbacks with a win that moved them to 10 games over .500 (48-38) for the first time since they started 17-7. The Braves also increased their lead to 1 1/2 games over the second-place Nationals in the National League standings.

The crowd of 48,815 was the largest of the season at Turner Field.

Justin Upton doubled after Freeman's RBI single in the first inning, and Jason Heyward's groundout pushed the lead to 2-0.

Longtime former Brave Martin Prado scored after singling to start the Diamondbacks' second inning. He advanced on a pair of groundouts and came home on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 2-1.

The Braves answered with two more runs in the second inning on four singles and a bases-loaded walk. After consecutive hits by Tommy La Stella and Gerald Laird to start the inning and a failed sac bunt attempt by Santana, B.J. Upton hit a bloop single to load the bases and Simmons singled in a run.

Justin Upton drew a two-out bases-loaded walk against Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter to push the lead to 4-1.

Santana has allowed fewer than two runs once in his past 10 starts, when he gave up just one unearned run and six hits against him on June 7 at Arizona. He had given up just one run and four hits through seven innings Friday and retired 11 consecutive batters before giving up a leadoff single to Didi Gregorius in the eighth.

After giving up another hit with one out to put runners on the corners, Luis Avilan replace Santana, who got a standing ovation as he left the field. A fielder's choice grounder drove in the second Arizona run when Simmons bounced a throw to first base to thwart a potential inning-ending double play.

Santana had been 1-5 with a 5.96 ERA over a span of eight starts before winning his past two, allowing only four runs in 14 innings of those games Friday and last Saturday at Philadelphia.

(c)2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)

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